Jose Hernandez Profile

  • Migrant Farmworker Turned NASA Astronaut & Engineer.

  • Inspiration for Amazon Prime Movie "A Million Miles Away".

  • José works as a consultant within the company he founded in 2012, Tierra Luna Engineering, LLC.
  • From harvesting crops across California to collecting data in space, astronaut and motivational speaker Jose Hernandez has led a remarkable life. Now a highly popular speaker, Jose Hernandez inspires audiences with his story of resourcefulness, self-purpose, and perseverance. Jose is also a very popular speaker for schools and universities celebrating the Hispanic Heritage month. His motivational story and STEM advocacy is perfect for younger audiences.

    Born into a migrant farming family in Stockton, California, Jose Hernandez spoke only Spanish until age 12. He spent those years on a long circuit up the length of California, harvesting crops from March to November. Growing up on the move gave Hernandez a special kind of self-determination. His parents made sure that no matter how many times he changed schools, no matter how dicey the neighborhoods he lived in, Jose stayed focused and driven to learn.

    With a tremendous work ethic built in the sweltering California fields, Hernandez excelled in college. His graduate work in electrical engineering helped secure Hernandez a job at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. There, he helped develop an x-ray laser and the world’s first full-field mammography system.

    But Hernandez had grown up gazing in wonder at the stars. At age 42, older than most rookie astronauts, Hernandez joined the 19th class of US astronauts. Five years later, he served as the flight engineer on NASA’s two-week-long STS-128 mission.

    In 2023, Amazon Prime premiered a biographical film titled “A Million Miles Away,” chronicling José’s journey from a humble immigrant laborer to an accomplished engineer, and eventually, an astronaut. The film draws inspiration from his 2012 memoir, “Reaching for the Stars: The Inspiring Story of a Migrant Farmworker Turned Astronaut,” highlighting his unwavering determination, sense of community, and self-sacrifice in pursuing an extraordinary dream.

    Additionally, Hernandez is a member of the Eta Kappa New Electrical Engineering Honor Society. He holds degrees—including an honorary LL.D. degree—from UC-Santa Barbara, which named him a Distinguished Alumnus in 2015.

    Jose Hernandez Speaking Videos

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    Jose Hernandez's Speech Descriptions

    Reaching for the Stars: The Inspiring Story of a Migrant Farmworker Turned Astronaut

    Jose Hernandez's inspiring story of becoming the first Mexican-American astronaut despite facing numerous challenges and setbacks. Growing up as a migrant worker and not learning English until he was 12, Hernandez persevered and worked hard to eventually join an elite team developing technology for early breast cancer detection. His message of determination and striving for greatness resonates as a classic American tale.

    Imposter Syndrome: How to Thrive in Today's Challenging Environment

    Impostor syndrome: a phenomenon that commonly affects high achievers, particularly those who are the first in their family to achieve academic or professional success. These individuals may struggle with self-doubt and a sense of inadequacy, questioning whether they truly deserve the recognition and accolades they have received. Jose will not only explore this topic, but also share strategies he used to overcome his own feelings of impostor syndrome.


    In his keynote speech, Hernandez shares his personal experiences of how teamwork played a crucial role in his journey to space, and how it can help others overcome challenges and achieve their goals. He discusses the importance of collaboration, communication, and trust in building successful teams, and offers practical tips and strategies for fostering a culture of teamwork in any organization.

    Whether you are a leader looking to inspire and motivate your team, or an individual seeking to achieve your own personal goals, Hernandez's keynote on teamwork is sure to inspire and empower you to reach for the stars.

    What People are Saying about Seeing Jose Speak

    Rating Entries

    “Jose!!! Your talk was AMAZING! I wish you could have seen all of the emojis that were flying during the livestream….Our kickoff event for Latinx History month was a huge success. All thanks to your enlightening words that inspired so many people out there!!!! THANK YOU!”
    – Google

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    Books by Jose Hernandez:

    Reaching for the Stars: The Inspiring Story of a Migrant Farmworker Turned Astronaut

    The book that inspired the new film A Million Miles Away.

    Born into a family of migrant workers, toiling in the fields by the age of six, Jose M. Hernàndez dreamed of traveling through the night skies on a rocket ship. Reaching for the Stars is the inspiring story of how he realized that dream, becoming the first Mexican-American astronaut.

    Hernàndez didn’t speak English till he was 12, and his peers often joined gangs, or skipped school. And yet, by his twenties he was part of an elite team helping develop technology for the early detection of breast cancer. He was turned down by NASA eleven times on his long journey to donning that famous orange space suit.

    Hernàndez message of hard work, education, perseverance, of “reaching for the stars,” makes this a classic American autobiography.

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